LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Town officials are waiting for the state Department of Environmental Protection to tell them if the town is responsible for contamination in a resident's drinking-water well.
DEP ran tests last week on the well on Joseph Trybus' property on Ore Bed Road. The Board of Selectmen on Monday night said it has not yet been informed of the source of the contamination.
The town installed a filtration system on Trybus' well last year after the DEP found high levels of trichloroethylene in the water.
"We need to find out what's contaminating your well," interim Town Administrator Joseph Kellogg told Trybus on Monday. "If it is coming from us, we will make it right."
Trybus' built his home five years ago across from the old Ore Bed Road landfill, which was capped about 15 years ago. In recent years, town officials have been attempting to reduce monitoring of the landfill because the levels had not changed and in doing so, the state tested Trybus' well for the first time last year.
When trichlorethylene, a solvent, was discovered the state mandated the town install a carbon filtration system on the well. The chemical was mostly used to clean grease off metal parts in industrial manufacturing and is linked to liver disease and an increased chance of cancer.
The town could be responsible for mitigating the problem — by costly means such as installing a water line — if found liable. But officials are not sure that the town is.
"We still don't feel it is our responsibility," Chairman William Prendergast said, citing the state's approval that the landfill was capped correctly.
Prendergast said the pollution could have come from other sites used by companies for dumping. None of the neighbors' water has tested positive.
However, tests of one nearby monitoring well has always shown levels above state regulations. Prendergast said the state never indicated concern about the levels because they weren't getting worse.
Trybus, though, said he was never informed of that information prior to purchasing the property.
"If I had known that, I wouldn't have bought the property," he said. "I just wish I got an FYI."
The town has spent between $30,000 and $40,000 on the issue already with testing and installing the filtration system. Even though his well water is filtered, Trybus said he has been buying bottled water.
Selectman Robert Barton said the town should consider paying for the bottled water while the state attempts to find the source and told Trybus to gather his bills.
"I think the selectmen should consider paying your water bills," Barton said. "We need to do anything we can to make you feel comfortable."
Those costs would be recouped from the responsible company if the town is not at fault, Barton said.
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